Auto-tune: What it is, how to enable it



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Auto-Tune is an audio processing tool and technology that is used to correct and alter the pitch of recorded vocals and instrumental tracks. The technology was first developed in the late 1990s by Andy Hildebrand, an engineer working in the petroleum industry with a background in signal processing. He used his knowledge of digital signal processing to create a tool that could automatically correct the pitch of music.

Auto-Tune History

In 1997, Hildebrand founded Antares Audio Technologies and the first version of Auto-Tune was released. The software quickly gained popularity in the music industry and was used in many hit songs in the late 1990s and early 2000s. One of the first notable uses of Auto-Tune was Cher’s 1998 hit “Believe”, where it was used to create a robotic vocal effect. This became known as the “Cher effect” and helped popularize the use of Auto-Tune in pop music.

In the early 2000s, the use of Auto-Tune became more widespread in popular music, especially hip-hop and R&B. Producers and engineers began using software to create a distinctive and exaggerated pitch-changing effect known as the “Auto-Tune Effect”. This effect became popular in many hit songs and was used by many artists such as T-Pain, Kanye West and Lil Wayne.

As Auto-Tune became more popular, it also became more controversial. Some musicians and critics argued that it was used too much and made the vocalists sound robotic and overly artificial. Others criticized it for hiding a lack of vocal skills. 

Despite the criticism, Auto-Tune still remains a popular tool in the music industry and is used on countless tracks across many genres. New versions of the software have been released with improved features and capabilities, and the technology continues to evolve.

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Auto-Tune has been used in many styles and genres of music, not only pop, hip-hop and R&B, but also rock, country and even classical music. Many singers, songwriters and producers have used it to enhance their performances and create new sounds.

Benefits and problems of using Auto-Tune

The Auto-Tune function saves time in the studio by automating the tone correction process and allowing sound engineers and music producers to focus on other aspects of the recording. The effect obtained with its help can be used to create unique and interesting sounds in many styles and genres of music – from pop, hip-hop, to country and classical music. Used with the head, it allows you to correct the inaccuracy of the tone, which makes the performance more refined and professional. 

On the other hand, the possibilities of this technology are being abused. Many songs sound similar and lack the individuality of the creator. Too strong correction contributes to modifying the voice so much that it resembles a robot, it becomes artificial. Excessive use of auto-tune can also make musicians and producers dependent on this technology, resulting in a lack of creativity and spontaneity in music. There are already problems with some artists (including Polish ones) when performing live. 

How to use Auto-Tune?

To use Auto-Tune, you must first purchase and install the software. It is available as a plug-in for digital audio workstations (DAWs) such as Pro Tools, Logic Pro and Ableton Live, or as a standalone application.

Once the software is installed, you can start using it to correct and change the key of your recorded performances. The basic process for using Auto-Tune typically involves the following steps:

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  1. Import an audio file into your DAW or standalone application.
  2. Place the Auto-Tune plug-in on the audio track where you want to use it.
  3. Set the key and scale for pitch correction. Auto-Tune will automatically adjust the pitch to match the selected key and scale.
  4. Adjust settings to control the amount of tone correction. You can tweak the key slightly or exaggerate it for a more pronounced effect.
  5. Use the built-in controls to fine-tune the tone correction. You can adjust the strength, speed and smoothness of the correction.
  6. Listen to the improved audio and make any necessary adjustments.

Auto-Tune analyzes the pitch of an audio signal and then adjusts it to a target pitch or scale. The software uses a tone detection algorithm to analyze the tone of the sound and then a pitch shifting algorithm to shift the tone to the desired value.

Auto-Tune uses two different modes of operation, “Auto-Tune Mode” and “Graphic Mode”. Auto-Tune mode is the most commonly used mode, it is used to correct the pitch of a vocal or instrument. Graphics mode is used to create more creative and artistic effects, allows for more detailed and precise pitch adjustment.

In Auto-Tune mode, the software analyzes the sound and adjusts the pitch to the selected key and scale. The amount of correction can be adjusted using the “Retune Speed” control, which determines how quickly the pitch is corrected. A low setting will correct the tone slowly, which may produce a more natural sound. A high setting will quickly correct the key, which may result in a more pronounced effect.

In graphical mode, the software analyzes the sound and displays the pitch of the projection graphically. You can then use your mouse to adjust the pitch of specific notes or phrases in your performance. This mode is useful for creating more creative and artistic effects, such as exaggerating vocal pitches.

Auto-Tune is a powerful tool that can be used to improve the sound quality of recorded music and to create unique and interesting sounds. However, it’s important to use it sparingly and be aware of its potential downsides, such as making singers sound robotic and artificial, and overusing it can make music sound similar and lacking in individuality.

Jakub Markiewicz
Jakub Markiewicz
Hi, I am the author of the blog and series of thematic portals since 2013. I have nearly 15 years of experience in working in the media, marketing, public relations and IT. If you are interested in cooperation, you would like me to write about something or test a product - let me know.
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